The last time sisters Chelsea and Makayla Hoey were teammates on the basketball court, they hoisted a trophy together. This fall, they’ll begin a quest for another as teammates on the Thompson Rivers University women’s basketball team in Kamloops.
Makayla, a 5-foot-7 point guard, just wrapped up her senior season by guiding the Ballenas Whalers to their third straight provincial girls AA championship tournament appearance. In April, she was announced as part of the WolfPack’s 2017 recruiting class. She will join older sister Chelsea, who enjoyed a breakout year as a sophomore during the 2016-17 Canada West season.
Head coach Scott Reeves and the WolfPack welcome Makayla to the team, highlighting her athleticism and skill as a ballhandler and shooter.
“She will be able to score for us in a variety of ways,” said Reeves. “She is a tireless worker and a great student. She is very team focused and will fit with our culture perfectly.”
Makayla will be taking courses to achieve an undergraduate Bachelor of Business degree at Thompson Rivers.
“TRU was the best fit for the program that I was interested in and also for basketball,” Makayla said. “I’ve been to Kam-loops many times and it is a beautiful area.”
Makayla led her Ballenas team to the Vancouver Island AA championship in 2017 as the Whalers went 13-1 in league play. The school’s last previous championship came in 2015, when Chelsea, a 5-foot-10 forward, was in Grade 12 and shared the court with Makayla, then a Grade 10 starter for the senior team.
“I think it will be great to have her be part of the team,” said Chelsea, who had a banner sophomore campaign with TRU in 2016-17. “I didn’t influence her at all. I wanted her to make her own decision and do what is best for her.”
While Chelsea didn’t give her sister the hard sell, she did share her own experience as a student-athlete.
“She told me that she is really enjoying her experience at TRU and she has made some really good friend that help make that experience more enjoyable,” adds Makayla.
That teamwork will continue with the program in the coming season. There may be sibling rivalry here, but it is put aside when the team hits the floor.
“I will always be her big sister until we step on the court,” said Chelsea. “On it, we will be teammates and I am very willing to help her and all the other recruits. First year is hard as you move away from home and all the other transitions, so I will do my best as a big sister to help her feel comfortable and help her adjust. My sister is a very competitive player so she will bring good new energy on the floor.”
“My strengths as a player are that I am determined to constantly get better,” Makayla added. “I am aggressive and not scared of contact and have good vision on the floor.”
Makayla’s high school coach for three years – grade 8 and then 11 and 12 – Bryan Spray said her greatest development in the past five years has been her confidence.
“Obviously, her fundamental skills have improved, but her confidence to drive and shoot has greatly increased,” said Spray. “Her strengths are confidence, speed, phenomenal ball handling, shooting, defense and her ability to penetrate a defense and drive to the net. She is a very well rounded player.”
That development will need to continue for Makayla to succeed while stepping up the university level. Chelsea struggled through a freshman season that was interrupted by injury and limited in playing time. But in her second season she moved into the top echelon of rebounders in the Canada West Conference while coming off the bench and parlayed that into a starting role at mid-season.
“She will have to be really determined and focused when it comes to learning the offense because it is one of the hardest parts of being a first year,” said Chelsea.
“To be successful at this level I will have to continue to work on my strength and speed so I can match up easier with older players,” Makayla acknowledged. “During the summer, I need to work really hard so I am ready to practice and play at the university level.”
Spray believes his former standout has the tools to make the transition to Canada West play.
“She is intensely competitive and mentally tough and allows nothing to affect her game,” said Spray. “She plays equally hard in spite of any adversity that crops up which is a rare quality in a high school athlete. I think she will do very well at the next level given her attitude, competitiveness and skill set. It has been a treat having Makayla with us and she is fun to watch play. She will make TRU better.”
This won’t be the first time that the WolfPack women’s basketball team has had a sister duo. Kayla and Karalyn Forsyth of Vernon wore TRU uniforms at the same time in 2009-10.